REVEALED: The true story behind the synagogue ‘tunnels’ as Hassidic Chabad members say boys took it upon themselves to expand the home of their ‘messiah’
Young followers of a Jewish Hasidic group in Brooklyn took it upon themselves to expand their synagogue, sparking conspiracy theories once their covert operation was shut down by their own leaders, congregants alleged.
News of a tunnel discovered in New York City on Monday and the arrest of young men who tried to stop its destruction sparked numerous theories about what the tunnels were for, but members of the Chabad group claimed Tuesday that it true story is not what most people thought. .
Followers of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seen by many in the group as the Messiah, told DailyMail.com they believe redemption will come to them if they fulfill his command to expand their holiest site – his former home at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn Heights.
Frustrated by what they saw as the unwillingness of the synagogue’s leadership to work to carry out the order, young Chabad members independently began tearing down walls to protect the synagogue, which is in a basement and already two buildings to be connected to a third building next to it. Chabad leaders are embroiled in a lawsuit over control of the building, which is currently vacant but served as a bathhouse more than 30 years ago.
But the unapproved project was discovered in December after neighbors reportedly complained, and the synagogue’s leaders themselves tried to shut it down. When workers showed up to fill the space, some young Hasidic men refused to let them in, and some were seen on video breaking through a shrine wall with hammers.
Young followers of a Jewish Hasidic group in Brooklyn took it upon themselves to expand their synagogue, congregants told DailyMail.com
Followers of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seen by many in the group as the Messiah, told DailyMail.com they believe redemption will come to them if they fulfill his command to expand their holiest site: his former home.
Members of the synagogue on Monday tore away interior wooden panels to reveal the entrance to the tunnel and entered to prevent the tunnels from being filled.
Then the synagogue leaders themselves called the NYPD, sparking the viral images as the young men tried to defend the expansion.
A tourist guide at Chabad headquarters, who only wanted to be identified as Baruch, told DailyMail.com that most members of the group agree that the synagogue needs to be expanded, but think the boys are doing it “in the wrong way.” way’ have addressed.
‘Thousands of people come here every year. It’s impossible for everyone to fit in, especially during the holidays. We’re talking about five thousand people coming in here. I was here. It’s painful stuff. Just sweat. It’s very, very difficult.
The rabbi himself said it should be extended. Now there are things and things that keep it from being expansion, the different politics and different things that keep it from expanding. But all of the rabbi’s disciples want it expanded. The only question is: how? When will it happen?
“Everyone knows the expansion will eventually go this way, all the way to Union.”
It is publicly known that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson issued the expansion doctrine, and online videos show the hopes for the expansion, but on Tuesday Chabad leaders would not acknowledge any ambition to expand the sanctuary and accused the young men of being extremists and vandals.
Zalmy Grossman, one of the Chabad members, agreed with Baruch and even became upset when he witnessed Chabad media director Motti Seligson’s denial that the group wants to expand 770 because, he explained, this is one of their fundamental beliefs.
“There’s a big hole in the ground that allows us to connect the two buildings from both sides and it becomes a big gigantic place, the whole underground – to connect them together, to be bigger, bigger, bigger,” Grossman said outside 770.
The synagogue in question is known as 770 thanks to its address at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is the world headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect
Seligson had previously issued a statement denouncing the young men, whom he described as a minority at the synagogue.
“Students broke through some walls in adjacent buildings of the synagogue to gain unauthorized access,” Seligson wrote on X.
‘A cement truck has come to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the synagogue wall and destroyed the sanctuary in an attempt to maintain their unauthorized access.”
A dozen young men, all Chabad students, were arrested Monday but released shortly afterwards. According to the NYPD, three of them were issued summonses and six were criminally charged with mischief and reckless endangerment.
A parishioner who disagreed with the boys’ actions told the Daily News that their faith believes in expanding the sanctuary, but not in the manner in which it was done.
“(Rabbi Schneerson) expressed a desire during his lifetime that that synagogue, which was running out of space, would undergo an expansion – but a legal and appropriate expansion under the leadership of Chabad,” Berel Bendet.
Chabad leaders would not acknowledge any ambition to expand the shrine and accused the young men of being extremists and vandals.
The synagogue is closed until inspectors determine its structural safety
“It’s possible they misinterpreted that as a call to action on their part to pick up the shovel, if you will.”
Chabad Chairman Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky said in a statement: “The Chabad-Lubavitch community is affected by the vandalism of a group of young agitators who damaged the synagogue.
“These detestable acts will be investigated and the sanctity of the synagogue will be restored. Our thanks to the NYPD for their professionalism and sensitivity.”
The synagogue is closed until inspectors determine its structural safety.
The building at 770 Eastern Parkway was once home to the movement’s leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The Gothic Revival facade is immediately recognizable to followers of the Chabad movement, and replicas of the revered building have been built around the world.
Schneerson led the Chabad-Lubavitch for more than four decades before his death in 1994, revitalizing a Hasidic religious community devastated by the Holocaust.
The headquarters was also the epicenter of the 1991 Crown Heights riots, which began after a seven-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car in the rabbi’s motorcade.